I thought I’d resurrect this thread with my current favourite game, hot from Essen this year, a seemingly small and simple yet wonderfully clever card game from Alexander Pfister (co-designer of Isle of Skye (yay!) and Broom Service (boo!)) called Royal Goods, a strategic version if you will of his excellent Port Royal which operated on a push your luck element.
Where Port Royal had players push their luck drawing as many cards as they dared until they chose to stop or drew the turn-ending condition (two ships of the same colour), Royal Goods now has players draw cards similarly, but for goods that are available in a free market, in two phases.
At this point, it should be mentioned that all cards have multiple uses - as resources (wheat, wood, clay, basic cloth, stone), and as buildings to produce secondary goods that ultimately have economic value, or as those goods themselves, face-down on those buildings at the value indicated.
At the start of a round, each player draws two cards (or three if they’ve built a Market Assist building that gives them the ability to do so) Then cards are drawn until the sun rises - when two drawn cards show a sun symbol. These cards remain in the centre of the play area as the Open Market and are freely available to all players to utilise for their buildings. Players then can assign their single worker card to a building in their tableau - at first, everyone begins with a charburner for making basic coal (each that requires 1 x wood and 2 x random other resource per player just to mix it up).
These workers can work sloppily, meaning they will produce one resource onto the building assigned and can do so at a 1 x resource discount if it’s not present in the open market or cannot be substituted from the players’ hands. Alternatively the worker can do thorough work and will produce 2 goods, but all resources must be present in the open market or substituted from players’ hands (and discarded) to do so.
This is where the semi push your luck element returns, or rather perhaps a “jackpot” element comes in - after selecting buildings to work in (and also if desired, a building to build from players’ hands, face down, for straight-up monetary cost), the active player draws goods for sunset - the same process, cards for goods available in the open market until two of the cards contain sun symbols. A lucky draw will mean a risky worker commitment will pay off and bonus production will be generated - further more, all buildings if activated, have a production chain effect that allow players to either discard cards from their hands as produced goods, or convert existing goods to more valuable ones or combinations of the two, so production chains to make more and more valuable goods are possible and potentially lucrative.
After production, if players can afford to build the card they may have nominated to build, they turn it over and do so, itself now ready for production - they may also if they’ve built certain types of buildings, hire an assistant worker to assign to a building semi-permanently (max 2 per player) that can be moved at a cost of 2 coins per turn.
Each building has a VP value, ranging from 2 to 5, Assistants have a VP value ranging (from memory) from 2 to 3, then remaining gold (goods on buildings as per the value indicated by the building) convert to VP at a ratio of 5:1 - the game ends 1 round after one or more players build an 8th building. And all of that is packed into 110 cards. OK, the less the 4 default charburner buildings (plays up to 4 players), less the 4 Workers and the 8 Assistants, the whole game operates in a rotating deck of 94 cards. (Worth mentioning, you start with 7 cards sitting on your charburner, each worth 1 gold).
I freaken’ love this game right now.